Welcome to Hamilton School

Curriculum Provision

We see the curriculum as all of the planned experiences that we provide for our students.  It is vital that we provide experiences that are useful and / or interesting.  Our students are entitled to access a broad and balanced curriculum that will enable them to make great progress both academically and socially.  Our curriculum aims to reflect the diversity of our students’ lives and to also prepare them for the diverse multicultural society that they live in. Our curriculum will play a huge part in helping us to meet our aims.

We are increasingly operating a mixed approach to our curriculum.  The subject areas of literacy and numeracy are taught in a very structured and discreet way. ICT is also taught separately.  Many of our other subject areas are then taught thematically so as to increase the engagement of students.  We follow the National Curriculum and we also personalise our provision so that different students have different experiences based on their academic levels and personal talents and interests.

We have refined our provision for 2014/15 and this can be shown on our ‘Curriculum Big Picture

At Hamilton School students experience  a creative and meaningful curriculum. ​ Literacy and Numeracy are taught discreetly but we always look to develop cross-curricula links so that students can apply their learning between subject areas. For other Curriculum areas, our 'Long Term' planning is presented within Thematic and Module Overviews. Please see examples of our Thematic Overviews here and here.

The Module Overviews were created by taking inspiration from a variety of sources and are based on the National Curriculum. As a school team we have personalised and refined the work so that it is relevant and engaging for Hamilton School students.  Please see an examples of Module Overviews which have been created by Hamilton School staff, here and here.

Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)

In the EYFS at Hamilton School we aim to develop and broaden the range of learning experiences in order to give the students opportunities to develop skills in each of the 7 areas and 17 Early Learning Goals outlined in the Early Years Outcomes. At the end of the Foundation Stage we inform parents and carers as to whether or not your child has met each learning goal, has exceeded the learning goal or are still at the ‘emerging’ level of development on a particular goal. The majority of students who attend special schools will be at an ‘emerging’ level of development in each early learning goal.

All students at Hamilton School experience difficulties in communication and we aim to ensure that all activities are underpinned with providing opportunities for students to develop their communicative skills and give them the tools to enable them to communicate at whatever level is relevant for the individual child.

Outdoor activities are planned for students throughout the day and are based around teaching students basic play skills, encouraging students to interact with one another and with adults and teaching students to explore their environment in relevant and meaningful ways.

For more information please contact Katie Williams (AHT) | kwilliams@hamilton.bham.sch.uk

Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2

In Key Stage 1 and 2 we look to embed and build on skills and interests established in the Foundation Stage. Approaches to learning continue to be underpinned by the pupils’ communication abilities and needs, and staff strive to find motivating and appropriate styles of teaching, so they are very individual to class groups. We teach subjects at an appropriate level and personalise our curriculum so that at any given time it is common to see each student in a class engaging in different learning activities. The curriculum focus changes and develops in line with the academic and personal development of the students.  As we move through the years, the focus in terms of PSHE changes.  Students are well prepared through the curriculum for the transition to secondary education.

Many of our students at Hamilton School are pre - verbal and our approach to reading and the assessment of reading has been developed with the support of a specialist speech and language therapist. Our students begin school missing many of the pre-requisite skills that are required for learning to read through the usual method of phonics.  These skills have to be first taught in a highly structured way through our early literacy programme.  When a pupil gains these skills and has reached an appropriate academic level that means they can access mainstream phonics, we then begin to teach them to read in this way.  Staff have recently been trained to teach Ruth Miskin’s approach to teaching phonics. Following a successful pilot, approximately half of our students are now on the phonics programme.   For some of our students phonics isn’t an appropriate approach to reading. This is either because they are ‘whole word’ learners or rely on pictorial representation (symbols).  Where phonics isn’t appropriate students continue with our early literacy programme and learn to read whole words – beginning with words they are most familiar with and extending their vocabulary through structured taught activities within literacy lessons.

We encourage our students to look at books appropriately right from the beginning, and we carry out an assessment of book skills within our early literacy programme. For those who can read there are formal activities that take place such as comprehension activities and 1:1 sessions but our students are also encouraged to read for pleasure. There are several books available for students to read within schemes - Oxford Reading Tree for our younger pupils and Story Street for our older pupils, there is also a range of non-fiction and fiction texts in many of the classrooms for students to choose from.

For more information please contact:
Katie Williams (DHT) | kwilliams@hamilton.bham.sch.uk
Jess Derrer (AHT) | jderrer@hamilton.bham.sch.uk

Home Learning principles

Our curriculum can be reinforced through effective home learning. We take a broad view of what we mean by home learning.  If we are striving to transform lives by working together, it is vital that there is a strong relationship between the home and the school.  We are looking for a consistency of approaches so that our students are best placed to learn really well.  We are explicitly focusing on the wider aspects of our students’ development alongside subject specific home learning.  For example, it is really important that students have effective bedtime routines so that they can sleep well and are ready to learn.  We work together to try to implement strategies.  Our curriculum is underpinned by the principles of independence and engagement and home learning should seek to develop these areas.  For example, we are currently taking our EYFS students swimming at a local swimming baths.  We are encouraging families to do the same so that the important skill of swimming can be developed.

For many of our students, at particular times in their development, traditional approaches to subject based home learning aren’t appropriate.  It is important that we are working alongside families in other aspects.  For many of our students, subject based learning is appropriate and we will provide personalised activities in line with what we provide in class time.  These activities will support knowledge and understanding of learning that is happening in class at the time or may help to develop skills.  The frequency and types of home learning that will apply to each student will be set out in their student ‘Passport for Learning’. Passports are being introduced on a rolling programme during 2015-16.  Feedback will be provided quickly for home learning activities and we will work alongside families so that they are able to support their students effectively.  Home learning should support students’ development and not become something that can reduce enjoyment of learning or increase stress levels to dysfunctional levels.

For more information please contact Jon Harris (HT) | jharris@hamilton.bham.sch.uk

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